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The Game Of Their Lives

The world was a very different place in October 2019. For one thing there wasn’t a global pandemic, and Ireland weren’t in a level 5 lockdown.

But a bit over a year ago was when the Ireland senior women’s football team really boosted their chances of qualifying for a first ever major tournament. They’ve made 10 previous attempts at qualifying for the Euros, and 7 at qualifying for the World Cup, yet they’ve never been on the big stage. But a win in front of a record breaking crowd in Tallaght changed all that.

Goals from captain Katie McCabe and a first senior international goal for Rianna Jarrett put Ireland in front. Ukraine pegged them back, but an own goal sent Ireland top of the group.

Since then Germany have, as expected, taken top spot. They’ve yet to concede a goal in the qualifying campaign. They are almost certain to take the automatic spot.

Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan celebrates her team’s third goal. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Ireland beat Ukraine 3-2 last October (Image: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho)

Ireland now face Ukraine in the return game, knowing a draw will guarantee them at least a play-off, which will take place over two legs next April. It could get better however, as a win would put them in contention for one of 3 automatic qualification spots as a best runners-up.

While at times finishing has left something to be desired, Ireland have only really failed to get the result they deserve once/ They drew away to Greece thanks to a 93rd minute equalizer. There were chances in that game to seal the win, they weren’t taken, and Ireland were stung. Equally there were chances in the return fixture against Greece to increase the lead, in what ended up being a nervy 1-0 win. Ireland also struggled to build a lead at times against lowly Montenegro.

But it’s important to point out that those complaints show how far Ireland have come. In the past Ireland were also-rans in a qualifying group, possibly getting a few points. Now Ireland are genuine contenders to qualify for a major tournament. So much so that it would be disappointing if they didn’t. That is unprecedented.

There’s plenty of talent in the team. Just last week world class midfielder Denise O’Sullivan, captain Katie McCabe, and Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney made the WSL team of the week over in England. McCabe, one of many leaders in the team, scored a belter of a freekick for Arsenal.

Elsewhere there is talent all over the pitch. Megan Connolly has been super for Brighton, and Rianna Jarrett, her club teammate, has proven to be a valuable workhorse, and has shown in her time in the Women’s National League she is a clinical finisher and a leader on the pitch. Aine O’Gorman has been scoring whenever she wants in the WNL. This is an Ireland team capable of getting a win here, never mind the draw they need.

We spoke about the game on this weeks women’s football edition of Peil and Back, which you can listen to here, or on Spotify below. It’s also available on most other podcast platforms (Apple, Pocket Casts, Player FM, etc) by searching Post to Post Sport.

The game is live on RTÉ, kick off is at 5pm. We’ll have analysis on next weeks Women’s Football episode of Peil and Back.

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UCL LiveBlog: Group Stage Matchday 1

Trying something new for this years Champions League. We’re going to liveblog the Group stages.

You can get in touch with us on Twitter with all your thoughts on tonights games

There were two early kickoffs. Dynamo Kyiv v Juventus and Zenit v Club Brugge.

The first goal scored in this seasons tournament proper was scored by Alvaro Morata. Morata scored twice in Juve’s 0-2 victory. Brugge beat Zenit 1-2 earlier on.

On to tonights games, here are the fixtures:

Barcelona v Ferencvarosi

Chelsea v Sevilla

Lazio v Dortmund

PSG v Man United

Leipzg v Baseksehir

Rennes v Krasnador

Ferencvarosi are making their first appearance in the European Cup for 25 years, Lazio are in the group stage for the first time in 13 years, and Baseksehir and Rennes are making their tournament bow.

GOAL Lazio: Lazio didn’t have to wait long for their first UCL goal in 13 years. It’s taken just 6 minutes for Immobile, who scored over 30 times in Serie A last season, to put them in front. Dortmund have struggled away from home in Europe in recent seasons.

Ferencvarosi must have felt they had their first Champions League goal thanks to a great finish by Tokmac Nguen, but it’s ruled offside by VAR.

GOAL Leipzig: One of the surprise packages of last seasons tournament take the lead. Angelino, on loan from Man City puts them ahead. 1-0

GOAL Leipzig: No Werner no problem. Angelino has his second. 2-0

Penalty Man United: Bruno Fernandes steps up, it’s Saved, but it’ll be retaken because VAR says Navas was off his line. Scored by Fernandes the second time around. 0-1

GOAL Lazio: Superb stuff by Lazio. Luiz Felipe makes it 2-0. Lazio’s defeat to Sampdoria on the weekend was described by their coach as one of their worst performances in a long time, this is a big improvement.

Penalty Barcelona: Despite a bright start by the Hungarian champions Barcelona have a chance to take the lead. Messi Scores to open his account for the season. 1-0.

Sevilla are battering Chelsea but haven’t made the break through yet. Could it be the year where they make an impression in the Champions League rather than the Europa League.

GOAL Barcelona: Fati scores ahead of his 18th birthday in a few days. De Jong played a precise ball over the top, it seemed to hit Fat’s shin but the keeper had no chance. 2-0.

HT Barcelona 2-0 Ferencvarosi: Despite a bright start from the Hungarian champions Barcelona are well in control.

HT Rennes 0-0 Krasnador: Rennes probably the better of the two sides in what looks like a game that may go a long way in deciding who gets that Europa League place.

HT Lazio 2-0 Dortmund: very dominant display from Lazio

HT Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla: Europa League Champions Sevilla have been the far better side.

HT Leipzig 2-0 Basaksehir: Leipzig giving the Turkish side a difficult UCL debut.

HT PSG 0-1 Man United: PSG with a lot of improvements to make.

Elsewhere:

In the League of Ireland Drogheda lead Galway 1-2 with Galway down to 10. Drogs will close the gap on Bray Wanderers at the top of the First Division. 1st Place goes up automatically.

Joint Championship leaders Bristol City and Reading are drawing 0-0. They’ll both remain top on 14 points. Bournemouth, Swansea, Millwall, and Watford make up the Play-Off places.

In League 1, Charlton Athletic won, so Ron’s a happy camper.

Second halves kicking off in the Champions League.

Haaland really should have had his first UCL goal of the season. Straight at the keeper. Shame we won’t see him at the Euros.

GOAL Barcelona: Coutinho scores, Fati with the assist. Coutinho seems to be more settled in this Barca team. 3-0

PENALTY Rennes: It’s scored by Guirassy, who’s shot squeezes under the keeper. Their first ever Champions League goal. 1-0

OWN GOAL Man United: Up Town Funk rings out after Martial heads into his own net. 1-1.

GOAL Krasnador: Against the run of play. Good strike by Ramirez.

PSG putting Man United under a lot of pressure now. The Red Devils have a big job on their hands to hold out for what would be a huge point.

RED CARD Barcelona: Pigue has been sent off. He brought down a Ferencvarosi player when he was through on goal. Penalty to the Hungarian Champions. Scored by Ukrainian international Kharatin, who sends Neto the wrong way. Foul wasn’t necessary at 3-0 up, he’ll miss the next UCL game. 3-1

GOAL Dortmund: Haaland get what’s felt like an inevitable goal in this half. Great movement in the box and a super strike. The Norwegian really does look world class even at a young age. Dortmund back in it. 2-1

STAT

PSG have now scored in 35 of their last 36 Champions League games. the one they failed to score in was the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich a few months ago. In truth it feels like years ago now.

We’re all a bit surprised in the office that Moise Keane plays for PSG now. Rodg is greatly impressed by Ansu Fati.

GOAL Lazio: That looks like that. Immobile peels off the defender who finds Akpa Akpro, the Ivorian sweeps it home. 3-1 Lazio.

Mendy has had a lot to do for Chelsea against Sevilla, he’s looked settled. The Spanish side are well on top. Chelsea named Cech in their Premier League squad, sounds like Kepa might be on his way out.

GOAL Barcelona: Pedri on his Champions League debut, not yet 18, finishes well despite the keeper almost getting to it. There is youth in this Barca team which makes it seem they can rebuild. 4-1 Barca.

11% of Rennes goals under their current manager have come in stoppage time, they nearly had another there.

GOAL Man United: They grew back into the game after the equalizer surely they’re going to take all 3 points. Great technique by Rashford to score. 1-2.

GOAL Barcelona: Dembele, having looking like he was on the wait, scores.

FT Barcelona 5-1 Ferencvarosi: Job done ahead of El Classico with two 17-year-olds on the scoresheet.

FT Lazio 3-1 Dortmund: Lazio return to the group stages after 13 years with a well deserved win.

FT PSG 1-2 Man United: Once again Man United beat PSG with a late goal.

FT Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla: Two points dropped for Sevilla.

FT RB Leipzig 2-0 Basaksehir: Comfortable day at the office for Leipzig.

FT Rennes 1-1 Krasnador: An exciting game between two tournament debutantes. Worth watching the highlights. Rennes had the better of the chances, Krasnador would be happier with the result.

Elsewhere

In the League of Ireland First Division Drogheda beat Galway 1-3. Huge win for Drogs in the most difficult of their remaining games. Drogheda keep their automatic promotion hopes alive, the play-offs look too far from Galway now.

In the Championship Reading are top on their own now after beating Wycombe 1-0, Bristol City lost their first game of the season, they were beaten 0-1 by Middlesbrough.

That’s it for tonights liveblog. Let us know who you think will win the Champions League this season and your thoughts on tonights games.